The General Accounting Office (GAO) should be ready to issue a new report early next year that details advertising spending by federal agencies.
It’s expected the long-awaited report will highlight how much government agencies spend with the Black Press and other minority publications, in contrast to what they spend on white — or so-called mainstream — media.
“It’s still on track,” said Chuck Young, the managing director of public affairs at GAO. “It will still be a few months before we have any estimated issuance date. … I’d say check back in January.”
In March 2016, D.C. Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton called on the GAO to issue a report on federal advertising contracts and subcontracts with minority-owned newspapers and media companies.
Norton said the federal government serves as the largest advertiser in the country, and it’s important that news outlets and media companies owned or published by individuals of color with a primary mission to serve communities of color have the same opportunities as other media outlets — especially as African-Americans and Hispanic Americans continue to grow in number in the United States.
“We believe that this request is particularly timely because GAO will be conducting an audit of spending by federal agencies on public relations and advertising,” Norton said.
In 2007, GAO, which acts as the authoritative audit unit for the federal government, probed the spending on advertising contracts with minority-owned businesses by five agencies — the departments of Defense, Treasury, Interior and Health and Human Services, and NASA.
GAO found that just 5 percent of the $4.3 billion available for advertising campaigns went to minority-owned businesses.
Headquartered in D.C. and with offices in several cities including Atlanta and Los Angeles, the GAO was founded in 1921.
In a fiscal year 2016 report, the agency noted that it had provided nearly 2,100 recommendations to improve government operations.
Approximately 73 percent of the recommendations GAO made in fiscal 2012 have already been implemented, thus making any suggestion on advertising with minority-owned media an important step in the quest for black and Hispanic-owned papers to receive ad dollars.
“The NNPA anticipates that the new GAO report will once again substantiate what we already know and that is Black American-owned newspapers and media companies are not afforded equality and equity for annual federal advertising spending,” Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), said in an earlier statement.
The NNPA includes more than 211 African-American owned newspapers and media companies around the country including the Washington Informer.
“This is a serious problem that urgently needs to be rectified by the government of the United States,” Chavis said.
GAO officials had said the audit would begin in either August or September, but Young said completion will take a few months from the beginning of 2018.
“The first thing our audit teams do is determine the full scope of what they will cover and the methodology to be used. That takes a few months,” he said. “We may have a projected date by [January] if those first steps are done.”